Social Recruiting is not BS

November 28, 2010

Last week, John Sumser called the use of social media in recruiting, “BS.”

The gist of Sumser’s argument is:
-You need a brand to be effective in social media
-You need to be viral to reach lots of people
-Social recruiting is really spamming social media sites with jobs

He concludes by saying, “There is little evidence that social recruiting, as currently practiced, actually yields meaningful results.”

I think Sumser’s argument is fairly specious. While he’s right that “as currently practiced” social recruiting can be spammy, he ignores the many success stories of both large and small companies while failing to relate social media to other types of recruitment media.

We do tend to hear mostly from larger companies succeeding with social media. According to John Campagnino, senior director of recruiting at Accenture, they are saving over $100,000 for a senior hire by using social media. He estimates that Accenture will make 40% of its hires in the next few years using social media. Home Depot has reduced its time-to-fill by almost 50% using LinkedIn.

These companies are huge players with successful, recognizable brands and viable recruiting strategies.  So why would we choose to ignore what they are doing well?

You don’t need to be a big brand or “viral” to be successful.
Social media recruiting is different because social media is different. How? The 2nd degree network referral effect – the next best thing to viral marketing. Facebook’s “Like” and “Share” buttons, Twitter’s “ReTweets” and LinkedIn’s “2nd degree introduction” features are truly revolutionary in their ability to spread content (i.e. jobs and candidate referrals) to second and third degree networks,  enabling you to get your message out to a much larger and more qualified audience—something job sites don’t allow. But more important than the breadth is the connection – social media enables a real-time two-way social connection between the sender and recipient.

Does all of this matter? Of course it does. Plenty of research shows that we are far more likely to purchase products and services based on the opinion of our friends and family. This is certainly true in recruiting—it’s why referrals are still the number one source of hire. Social media recruiting is a way to tap into the referral pool. In order to be successful, recruiters don’t need to produce viral content; they simply need to understand how to tap a few good referral points.

Recruiters need to go where the talent is. With over 500 million people on Facebook and more than 80 million using LinkedIn, social media sites represent an enormous talent pool. More important than pure reach, Facebook users spent almost 36% of their online time on the site (Source: Nielsen). A new report from job aggregator SimplyHired showed that over 60% of job seekers are using social media in their job search.

These figures are alarming, yes, and introduce a challenge for smaller firms looking to compete for talent.  And Sumser is right by saying there is time and complexity involved in making social media recruiting work.Thankfully, there are some good tools out there to help, tools like Jobvite, Jobs2Web, and the newly introduced Bullhorn Reach. I would suggest using one of these tools to support your efforts and listen to Glen Cathey, VP of Recruiting for KForce:

“Recruiting has always been social – interactions have primarily taken place in person and over the phone. Social media simply enables a third way to communicate: online.”

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